Like a lot of people, I struggle with starting my day out with breakfast. When I was younger, I could bolt out of the house within 30 minutes of waking up with nothing in my stomach until lunchtime, which sometimes was late in the day, if at all. Now I have to wake up 2 hours before I need to leave for work and spend most of that time drinking tea and scrounging for food. Cold cereal usually ends up on my breakfast menu, but in the cold winter months, a cold breakfast does not appeal. Toast with butter stops the complaints from my stomach, but definitely does not satiate until lunchtime. I have been searching for something quick, warm, and filling that can be prepared when I’m half-asleep. I’m supposed to eat protein with every meal, too, but it’s difficult to meet all those requirements in a weekday breakfast.
So I was understandably excited when the Jan/Feb issue of Cook’s Country arrived and there was a breakfast recipe that met all of these requirements and as an added bonus can be made and frozen down. What is this magical breakfast dish? Goetta. What is Goetta? I had absolutely no idea until I read the article. Goetta is an odd-sounding combination of oats, meat and spices formed into a loaf, which is then sliced and pan-fried then topped with an even odder array of toppings from fried egg, ketchup, maple syrup, and even grape jelly. I had never even heard of it (and if they hadn’t provided a phonetic pronunciation, I wouldn’t have been able to say it-it’s GET-ta, by the way). The good people at Cook’s Country, specifically Diane Unger, who wrote the article, provided some history on this dish. Goetta is very popular in regions with German roots, specifically Cincinnati, Ohio (where there are annual festivals dedicated to Goetta), Indiana and Kentucky. Oats and meat are not a combination of ingredients I would have ever come up with on my own, but I like oats and I like sausage, so what was there to lose?
The recipe calls for quick-cooking steel-cut oats and I was forced to substitute Scottish oatmeal (which is a finer grind of steel-cut oats) as I couldn’t find quick-cooking steel-cut oats. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. The recipe is fairly straightforward—start by sautéing onions in 1 tbsp. of butter, toast “sausage spices” of ground fennel, sage, and allspice, then add water and crumbled sausage. Bring that mixture to a boil before adding the oats, then lower the heat and let the whole simmer until thick. Pour the Goetta into a loaf pan and let cool before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Turn out the Goetta and cut the loaf into ½” slices. Pan fry the slices in oil and top with whatever condiment sounds good.
I scooped the oat/sausage mixture, which was like a paste, into a silicone bread loaf pan to make it easier to unmold. I was a little worried that the oat substitution would alter the texture of the loaf, but it set up nicely and sliced neatly. The only problem I encountered was that some sausage had not cooked so there were a few pink streaks as I cut the slices. I should have let the sausage cook a little longer before adding the oats. However, the slices are thin enough that any uncooked sausage cooked through when they were pan-fried.
The final product is delicious! Pan-frying gives the loaf slices a brown and crispy crust and the oats keep it creamy in the middle. The added spices punch up the flavor of the sausage and it was so tasty I didn’t even need to add a topping. The whole recipe made 16 slices, which I froze down individually and now have about 2 weeks’ worth of breakfast all ready to go! This recipe makes me wonder what other regional dishes are out there I am unaware of and glad I have a Cook’s Country subscription!
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 1/4 cups water
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
1 3/4 cup quick-cooking steel-cut oats
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Grease 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch nonstick loaf pan. Melt butter in Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in sage, fennel, and allspice and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 4 1/4 cup water and sausage and mash with potato masher until water and sausage are fully combined. Bring to boil and stir in oats. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Uncover and maintain gentle simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture is very thick and rubber spatula dragged across bottom of pot leaves trail for about 3 seconds, 15 to 18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Smooth top and tap firmly on counter. Let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully chilled and firm, at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
Run thin knife around edges of goetta, then briefly set bottom of pan in hot water to loosen goetta from pan. Turn out goetta onto cutting board. Cut desired number of 1/2 inch slices from loaf. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over med heat until shimmering. Add up to 4 slices of goetta and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to wire race and let drain. Repeat as needed. Serve. (Wrap an remaining goetta in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or slice, wrap, and freeze for up to 1 month. To cook from frozen, reduce heat to med low and increase cook time to 7 to 9 minutes per side.)